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Lt. Gov. Roberts Reminds Seniors of Expanded Medicare Drug Benefits

More seniors now eligible for low-income “Extra Help” prescription drug subsidy as of January 1

PROVIDENCE- Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts, Chair of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, today reminds seniors that they may now be eligible for increased prescription drug assistance from the Medicare low-income “Extra Help” program.

Many seniors enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program may now qualify for the “Extra Help” low-income subsidy because of a law passed which excludes life insurance policies and financial assistance received from family and friends when calculating qualifying income. Seniors who had been rejected from the program may now qualify for the subsidy.

“The cost of prescription drugs can be, and often is an unbearable financial burden for seniors,” said Lt. Gov. Roberts. “Too often I hear of individuals and families forced to forego medications because of the high cost of their prescriptions. Expanding the eligibility for a program that helps fill the gap in prescription coverage has the potential to relieve that burden for many seniors.”

To qualify for the “Extra Help” program, annual income must not exceed $16,245 for individuals and $21,855 for married couples. Assets, not including the value of a home and automobiles are capped at $12,510 for an individual and $25,010 for married couples. Previously applicants were required to include money received from family and friends used to pay for household expenses as income, and the value of life insurance policies was included as assets. Those sources of funds will no longer be counted, making more seniors eligible for this crucial help.

“I urge any senior whose application for the low-income subsidy was rejected to recalculate their income and assets under the new guidelines and re-apply for the program,” Roberts continued. “At a time when every dollar counts, especially for seniors and fixed income Rhode Islanders, this small change in law could make a huge difference.”

For more information on the “Extra Help” program, visit http://www.ssa.gov/presriptionhelp, contact the RI Department of Elderly Affairs at 401-462-3000, or The Point, Rhode Island’s resource for seniors and adults with disabilities, at 401-462-4444.

Related links

Department or agency: Elizabeth Roberts, Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Online: http://www.ltgov.state.ri.us/

Release date: 01-11-2010

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